The Black Mask army returns with another raw, challenging & confrontational poli sci-fi thriller in Young Terrorist by Matt Pizzolo, Amancay Nahuelpan & Jean-Paul Csuka, that goes beyond the assumptions of it’s title for a complex exploration of American power & politics.
Young Terrorist first issue is 81 pages which allows for the creators to build up it’s world and set up the characters & premise. In that way, Young Terrorist is able to move in different directions, being partially a book about New World Order Illuminati covert wars, partially about activism and partially about using new media to disrupt the current system from the inside out. Writer Matt Pizzolo is throwing a lot at the reader, but the books length and measured pace help to flesh that out and creates connective tissue between the various themes of the series. Anybody whose familiar with Pizzollo’s work on God Killer should know that he pulls no punches and is unafraid of looking at humanity most uncomfortable spots; Young Terrorist is unflinching in that way. Within the first half of the book, we see an infant being kidnapped, a suicide bombing at a Starbucks, a teenager being tortured in a CIA black site, a young hitchhiker blowing a truck driver for cash then getting beating by the same truck driver for trying to steal his clothe’s and a cop’s head explode from a close range gun shot. This is not for the faint of heart, but there is substance behinds all that in it’s character studies and how they relate to the world and while at times that can feel heavy handed, that’s partially because the United States military’s interrogation techniques or the way we raise our live stock is pretty fucking heavy. Wherever you fall on the Illuminati conspiracy theory, it’s hard to argue with the reality that Young Terrorist is portraying, even if it’s retrofitted to create science fiction, it’s still very much a mirror to our own world. To match the writings tone, artist Amancay Nahuelpan has a sort of strange and ugly illustration style that helps to accentuate the mood of the story. His artwork feels very focused on shape and spherical objects in a weird way while his acting hit’s the mark and helps shore up the character work. Colorist Jean-Paul Csuka adds to that mood with his bright and vibrant color work. Young Terrorist covers a lot of ground, the book goes from a prep school, to the middle east, to middle of nowhere Wyoming to a dilapidated Detroit suburb pretty quickly and it feels like Csuka’s color work helps in easing that transition for the reader by establishing a sense of place and environment.
This is not a book for everyone, there are readers that will instantly disagree with it’s politics, others will have a hard time following such a large scope of narrative and others will just find it too disturbing. But if you can stare into that abyss that is Young Terrorist long enough, it really does stare back at you and help you see things about our world in a new way. As Pizzolo writes in the books closing essay “Nothing in this book is true, but it’s all True” Some people will tell you that truth is subjective but that’s only to a point. On some level, we are being sold on a moral ambiguity that is convenient for us to believe in, but ultimately destructive. Young Terrorist feels like it’s searching for an opt out of that and while it means facing some uncomfortable truths about our own culpability & the steep cost at which real change is attainable, it might be necessary. I don’t know how subjective that truth is just yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what Young Terrorist has to say about it.